Health chiefs 'failed to develop career structure'
The career structure for specialist surgeons lags behind many countries, including the mainland, experts say.
They said training in surgical specialties was well developed, but the Hospital Authority had failed to develop a career structure to recognise specialties such as urology and paediatric surgery.
The failure could put frontline services at risk, because hospital managers could manipulate consultant posts as they wished, said Dr Peter Chan Siu-foon, chief of the surgery division at Prince of Wales Hospital.
In 1992, the College of Surgeons under the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine recommended the Hospital Authority establish posts for urology, paediatrics, plastic and reconstructive surgery.
But the four areas still have no career structure.
'The development is very skewed - well-developed in training programmes and examinations, but the destination of the trainees is as obscure as it was five years ago.
'Even if the trainees pass the specialty examination, there is no job for them to apply for, as consultation and senior medical officer posts in these specialties or sub-specialties are still very remote,' said Dr Chan.
He said urology had been regarded as a specialty at Beijing Medical University Hospital since 1946.
'Nobody would argue that specialty service is the best way to deliver health-care service.
'But it's contradictory for the Hospital Authority to promote the idea on one hand and fail to develop any career structure on the other.
'Without the designated posts, hospital managers can manipulate what consultant they want when one leaves, disregarding the frontline demands,' he said.
Dr Andrew Yip Wai-chun from the Public Doctors Association said a change in career would cost a huge amount of money. 'Moving to a specialist health-care system is a global trend. The Hospital Authority must decide whether it wants to follow the trend,' he said.
Hospital Authority chief executive Dr Yeoh Eng-koing said too much specialisation would hurt frontline health-care services.
An authority spokesman said determining career structure was a complex issue but it intended to 'maintain a regular dialogue with the College of Surgeons'.